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NOTRE DAME – New research shows cuddling your babies leads to them becoming healthier, happier adults.

WSBT reports a Norte Dame psychologist has found that those snugly childhood experiences can help children grow into successful and well-adjusted adults.

Darcia Narvaez, a professor of psychology, and her colleagues surveyed more than 600 adults. She found that adults who said they received cuddles, snuggles and lots of free play time had evolved into adults with less anxiety and better mental health.

“These things independently, but also added up together, predicted the adults’ mental health, so they were less depressed, less anxious, and their social capacities — they were more able to take other people’s perspective. They were better at getting along with others and being open-hearted,” says Narvaez.

The verdict: Narvaez says parents should hold, touch and rock their babies as much as necessary.

“What parents do in those early months and years are really affecting the way the brain is going to grow the rest of their lives, so lots of holding, touching and rocking, that is what babies expect. They grow better that way. And keep them calm, because all sorts of systems are establishing the way they are going to work,” said Narvaez.

In fact, she said cuddling is so important that ignoring babies when they cry could affect them negatively.

“If you let them cry a lot, those systems are going to be easily triggered into stress. We can see that in adult hood, that people that are not cared for well, tend to be more stress reactive and they have a hard time self calming,” said Narvaez.